Government ministers fear Dublin will be in lockdown by weekend

Government ministers fear Dublin will be in lockdown by weekend

Members of the public wearing face masks on Grafton Street today. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Government ministers and health officials fear the capital will be forced into lockdown before the weekend.

Dublin is currently in level two "with extra restrictions" but is widely expected to be moved to level three in the coming days as positive cases continue to spike in the city and county.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said there is "a very real and strong possibility" Dublin would move into lockdown while on RTÉ's Morning Ireland programme on Wednesday, while other government figures are concerned about missed opportunities by the government.

"We are very worried about figures," a government source told the Examiner.

"My concern is that last Thursday (acting CMO) Dr Ronan Glynn wrote a letter to the Minister of Health and said he had very important advice in relation to Dublin, asking people to stay in the county, the advice wasn't acted on all weekend.

"It went through to Tuesday not being shared, 557 people got sick in that time but we don't know how many people visited family or nursing homes in good faith.

"The bulk of cases were in Dublin in the first wave, and we're seeing the same again because the volume of people in Dublin is so significant.

"I don't understand why they waited, but the general view was the government were trying do it all together while announcing the Covid plan.

"The fact is if you tell people what they need to do and why, they will, but they need direction.

"So now it's highly likely Dublin will move into lockdown and it's a question of 'when' not 'if'."

It's understood concerns around mixed messages from ministers was not raised at Tuesday's cabinet meeting as members were confident that the Living with Covid plan would reroute the government's communications strategy which has been highly criticised in recent weeks.

"The general expectation was that the plan itself is good, we genuinely believe the plan is good," one minister said.

"The general expectation at cabinet was: 'Okay, here we go, this is it', there was to be an early press conference, the Taoiseach on the Six One, the Tanaiste on PrimeTime, a big effort to get it right, it didn't look like we'd have any issue then issues started when we had ministers contradicting eachother on radio and TV."

Professor Phillip Nolan told the media at the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) briefing on Wednesday night that Ireland was at a tipping point.

"I am more concernered at this point in time than any point since April," he said.

"The county of greatest concern is Dublin and is close to 100 cases per 100,000 of population.

"The daily number of cases has increased very rapidly, we were looking at one or two new cases per day per 100,000 in August, it's now between 8-10 per day, an increase of four and fivefold - Three to five times higher than the rest of the country.

"This disease is spreading rapidly."

NPHET are to meet on Thursday to discuss the current situation across the country and potential further guidance on Dublin.

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